Istanbul is an incredibly beautiful city to explore but for some reason, if you don’t have time see it during the day, it doesn’t mean that you’ll completely miss out on the adventure. There are tons of things to do in Istanbul at night that will keep you occupied throughout the evening hours.
Whether you’re on a work trip where the only free time you have is in the evening hours or you’re just a traveler who wants to experience both sides of the city – by day and by night. This Istanbul nightlife guide will show how to enjoy Istanbul by night like a local.
Fun things to do in Istanbul at night
1. Take a Bosphorus night cruise
There is no trip to Istanbul that is complete without taking a cruise along the Bosphorus strait. Even though most people choose to go for the cruise during the day, (which is amazing) but it gets even better during the night.
The cruise doesn’t just give you an opportunity to cross from Europe to Asia but also breathtaking views of the lights of the Bosphorus bridge, lights from nearby mosques and the city in general.
To get the most out of the Bosphorus cruise, book the cruise in advance. There are different types of cruises you can choose from depending on your taste. You can opt for this private cruise which has no other incentives and ideally cheaper if you want to enjoy Istanbul on a budget. There is also another Bosphorus cruise that comes with a 3-course dinner, known as the Bosphorus dinner cruise and if you fancy a bit of entertained while cruising the Bosphorous, opt for this Turkish entertainment Bosphorus dinner cruise – as it includes dinners, traditional Turkish belly dancers, musicians and other forms of Turkish entertainment.
2. Enjoy a Turkish bath
After a long day of countless sightseeing, there is no better way of relaxing in the evening than taking a Turkish bath. The Turkish bath or Hammam is a legend and famous activity in Turkey, so you’ll be able to find a number of hammams. And since most Hammans are open till 10 or 11 pm, taking a Turkish bath is one the best things to do in Istanbul at night.
Since there are many Hammans in Istanbul, you can just hop into any hotel that offers the service, but if you want to make even your experience better, opt for the historical one.
There are different ways to enjoy a Turkish bath; by self-service where you carry all the items needed( soap, shampoo, and others) and bathe yourself or the traditional and commonest way where the attendant washes you. The self-service option is cheaper but if you want to enjoy a true Turkish bath, opt for the traditional bath. For over 15 minutes, you’ll be washed, massaged by an attendant – an experience that will leave you relaxed like no other.
Another way to enjoy a Turkish bath is by booking it through a tour company which will arrange everything for you. And who doesn’t want that kind of treatment? So go ahead and book your Turkish bath from here.
3. Enjoy the dancing fountain at the Sultanahmet park
Just in between the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia is the Sultanahmet park whose colorful dancing fountain changes the entire vibe of the area at night. The fountain brightens up with a beautiful and colorful lighting display that leaves revelers and tourists enchanted by the water show. Seeing the dancing fountain is absolutely free for everyone which adds up to the list of night activities in Istanbul.
The views of the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia with the lighting from changing colors of the dancing fountain will leave you in awe as you admire the ancient yet modern architecture of the buildings.
4. Visit the Pera museum
Located in Beyoglu district in close proximity to the Taksim square, Pera museum is one of the leading private art museums in Istanbul. The museum has a number of art collections from Oriental painting collection, Kutahya tiles and ceramic collection to Anatolian Weights and measures collection.
The museum also has a cafe to enjoy either the famous Turkish tea or coffee and an Artshop to purchase some pieces of artwork you might have liked.
The museum is always open from Tuesday to Sunday with varying closing times. Pera museum closes at 7 pm from Tuesday to Saturday except on Fridays when it closes at 10 pm making it one of the perfect places to visit in Istanbul at night. Fridays even get better since its free admission from 6 pm to 10 pm. Since times of admission can sometimes change, always check the Pera museum website before you go.
5. Go for a whirling dervish show
If you’re looking for what to do in Istanbul at night, then going for a whirling dervish show should be one of those things.
Even though the whirling dervish ceremony might seem more like an entertainment performance, this 800-year-old tradition is still very much a religious ceremony to the Turks – so as you enjoy, make sure you observe the few rules that might be set out.
Some of the places where you can enjoy a whirling dervish show in Istanbul include;
- Galata Mevlevi Museum which is the most popular hall for a whirling dervish show. The show is always on Sunday starting at 5 pm. Tickets can be bought at the entrance but since it’s a popular show that sells out quickly, you can buy your ticket to the whirling dervish show online beforehand. You can also arrive at the hall earlier to get the front row seats.
- Hodjapasha dance theater in Hodjapasha. This is also another popular venue for the show whose location in a former Hammam makes it even more exciting. The whirling dervish shows at Hodjapasha take place every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday starting at 7 pm. Since the tickets sell out quickly as well, I’d advise you to buy one online not to miss out on this amazing experience.
6. Visit the Galata tower
Constructed in 1348 in Galata, the Galata Tower is the best place to get 360-degree panoramic views of Istanbul. Before the construction of the Beyazit Tower in 1749, the Galata Tower was the tallest building in Istanbul at approximately 67 meters long.
There is no better place to watch a sunset in Istanbul like at the Galata Tower and it is also the best spot to take in all the beautiful lights of Istanbul city at night.
The tower can be visited every day from 9 am to 8 30 pm making it one of the best places to visit in Istanbul at night.
7. Explore the Grand bazaar
With over 4000 shops, 60 streets with in the market and 11 entrance gates, the grand bazaar is one of the world’s oldest and largest markets receiving between 250,000 to 400,000 visitors daily.
Whether you want to buy some souvenirs or do window shopping, you can spend your evening strolling through the market as you admire traditional Turkish goods from the famous Turkish carpets, dessert, custom made Turkish lamps to Turkish garments. The bazaar has everything you can think of.
Since the bazaar receives so many people, just make sure that your belongings are with you at all times. The Grand Bazaar is always open from Monday to Saturday and closes at 7 pm – so you have time to enjoy this shopping experience in the evening hours.
8. Visit the Istanbul Museum of modern art
Also known as Istanbul modern, the Istanbul Museum of modern art is a contemporary museum in Beyoglu district which focuses on Turkish artists. The museum has a collection of artwork from a wide range of artists from Turkey.
If you’re an art lover and wondering where to go in Istanbul at night, then the Istanbul museum of modern art will meet your needs. The museum also has a library with over 9000 books specializing in Turkish art and related topics.
The museum is always open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm but if you’re going at night, you can go on Thursdays since its stay open till 8 pm.
9. Go to the boulderhane rock climbing gym
Want to sweat it out in the evening while still having fun? Then go to the boulderhane rock climbing gym which is the best rock climbing gym in the entire country.
The activity comes with training, so even if you’re just a beginner, worry not as you’ll be instructed on what to do. So if you’re looking for places to visit in Istanbul at night, then the boulderhane rock climbing gym is the place to be since it closes at 10 pm from Monday to Sunday. You can get more information about this fun activity from here.
10. Enjoy the lights of the Bosphorus bridge
The Bosphorus bridge is stunning to look at at any time of the day but it gets incredibly beautiful at night when it lights up. The lights from the bridge are absolutely beautiful creating an amazing reflection on the river of the Bosphorus strait which creates a whole new breathtaking scenery.
If you’re planning to go to Istanbul but not sure what to do at night, I hope this Istanbul nightlife guide gives you a general overview of the best places to visit in Istanbul at night.
More Turkey posts to help you plan your trip
- What to know before visiting Istanbul for the first time
- Is it safe to travel to Turkey
- Free things to do in Istanbul
- How to travel to Istanbul on a budget
- Best places to visit in Turkey
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